The capital of Catalonia was alive with festivities today for the celebration of Sant Jordi! This is the first holiday we have been in Barcelona for. Spanish people know how to celebrate! As someone told us here: Spanish people work to live (not live to work). For example, during the Summer, many business hours are reduced to 9-3 so people can enjoy summer afternoons with their families. This was our first taste of many festivals to come this year.
Anyway, Sant Jordi on April 23 is significant for people here for several reasons:
- Saint George is the patron saint of Catalonia
- This day honors the death of Cervantes, the great Spanish writer
- UNESCO has declared this the World Book Day
All of these things collide together to form a Valentine’s-like tradition with strong Catalonian pride undertones.
Key to this tradition is the custom that couples give each other a book and a rose – a book for the man and a rose for the woman (because, you know, women don’t need to tax their mind thinking about things. KIDDING.) Anyway, there are stalls everywhere setup in the streets selling books and roses – in all sorts of creative forms!
This meant that one of the main streets by where we are staying was packed with people:
^WHYYY? My new philosophy on getting through crowds is to NOT move out of the way of other people but just to continue straight in my path. Tourists’ walking paths are too hard to predict!
Everyone rolled out their Catalan flags today, as well. As legend goes, St. George slayed a dragon, freeing a princess and converting an entire town to Christianity. The flag of Barcelona actually integrates the cross of St. George. People were also selling dragon paraphernalia to remember this legend.
^Even Dunkin Donuts commemorated today with Catalan flag icing and rose icing. Side rant: People here keep thinking that we’ll like Burger King, as if Americans eat that all the time. Sure, yes, Burger King is the food of my people.
Grant and I participated in the traditions, because you know when in Rome. He’s been gunning for some Douglas Adams books in English, so I found the (I’m convinced) only English copies of the book in Barcelona. Grant got me a beautiful rose especially picked out for his mujer.
We ended the day with some delicious sangria and patatas bravas:
^Will this ever get old?
The restaurant we went to is owned by a couple. There was a quotation written on the wall by them:
I wish we had met earlier…
We met and that is what is most important.
This touches me and reminds me of the importance of the NOW – not the past and what has happened and not the future and what will happen – not why’s, not what if’s – just now. The culture of celebration here, I think, is ultimately tied to the NOWness attitude of people. The willingness to suspend concern, worry, and fear for a shared moment of happiness.
Everything that I have now – this opportunity to live abroad, a wonderful relationship and life with an amazing man, family and friends who support us and send their love – that is what is most important.
Eso es lo importante.
My favorite post so far. Love the napkins , and your take on books for men and roses for women. Exited G is trading Douglas Adams. 42!